Quick-Thoughts: Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven (2002)

Like Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), this is the kind of remake I solemnly welcome. Todd Haynes harkens back to Douglas Sirk’s intense color palleting from All That Heaven Allows (1955), but with a special focus on Autumn rather than Christmas festivities, and the main plot points are replicated as well but with adjusted details to fit entirely new explorations: the ageism is dropped, though the sexism kept, and the racism and homophobia interposed. We see how power positions (often held by men) grant a larger social leeway to hide taboos and how racial tension encourages both sides to scorn diversifying with one another. With this fresh expansion of the mid-1900s high-class American social culture that refuses to integrate, which Sirk set up literally during that era, Haynes is able to create his own iconic moments such as “the only person in the room” sequences, while even making general changes too like with its more open-ended and tragic final sequence. It’s not NEARLY up to par with Sirk or Fassbinder’s relations — it feels more interchangeable with other movies of its kind than even those older efforts that ironically influenced so much subsequent melodrama — but it’s definitely good nevertheless.

Verdict: B-

Todd Haynes Ranked

“Far From Heaven” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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